Athletics SA axe two marathoners

2009-07-25 00:00

ATHLETICS South Africa (ASA) have cut two of the five male marathoners from the team preparing for the World Championships in Berlin. Enos Matalane and Lushapo April have been axed for failing to attend the high altitude camp in Potchefstroom.

Matalane failed to report at any stage. April attended the first segment prior to the Nedbank Half Marathon Championships in Port Elizabeth, where the 22-year-old set a new personal best time of 61minutes 49 seconds for seventh position overall and third in Championships.

ASA had taken the unprecedented step of inviting the whole marathon team, including sole women marathoner Tanith Maxwell, from KZN, into the training camp with a view to providing the best possible preparation for Berlin.

Team tactics have long played an important part in determining the outcome of marathons, but previously the South African athletes have prepared individually and to some extent even competed against each other in an attempt to be the first South African runner.

“Kenyan and Ethiopian marathoners always succeed in the marathon events because their athletes work in tandem. We are running a professional organisation here and we will not allow athletes to do as they please,” said ASA General Manager Molatelo Malehopo.

“We can’t tolerate ill-discipline in our programme and we are hoping that those we are taking to Berlin will represent us with aplomb.”

In 2005 in Helsinki, not one of the South African marathon team finished the race and in 2007 only two of the men finished.

With Matalane and April removed, South Africa is left with minimum numbers for a team, which comprises Coolboy Ngamola, Norman Dlomo and Johannes Kekana.

Reports from the camp indicate that this trio, together with Maxwell, have formed a very tight team, and that alone will have a positive effect on next month’s outcome.

Should any of these three become injured, or have a bad day, South Africa will fail to score in the team competition, which this year would be their best hope of a top placing, over the four-lap city centre course.

“We tried in vain to contact [Matalane and April] and we decided not to sit back and complain about their refusal to come to camp. Life will continue without them … Enos and Lusapho are marathoners and they should prepare together with their teammates,” said Malehopo.

It is understood that April is in the Eastern Cape and there is speculation that under the guidance of his coach, Karen Zimmermann, he may have opted to train for the half-marathon distance following his performance in the PE Championships.

It is unclear as to whether this ill-discipline towards the marathon training camp will influence his potential selection to the World Half Marathon Championships in Birmingham UK in October, should ASA opt to send a team.

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